Being a “21st Century” teacher is still very much in vogue these days, and I still hear the term “21st Century Skills” tossed about from time to time at conferences and workshops. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the phrase (it’s immensely better than it’s predecessor “digital natives”) as it speaks to the collaborative, creative, and communication skills that most educators should herald as the foundation of their instructional practice.
“21st Century Skills” get a bad reputation though for being overly “techie”, and quite often people will go out of their way to shoe horn every single piece of media creation they can into a document extolling teachers to adopt more tech. To be honest, that reputation is sometimes earned, as I see teachers that I work with struggle to try all sorts of new gadgets, tech, apps, and sites without getting too deeply into any of them, and only retaining some surface level knowledge, or worse yet, not even giving a tool or technique a fair shake. So when I saw Brad Currie tweet out the following image created by Sean Junkins, I had to poke a little bit of playful fun with it.
And thus, my “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This year AND KEEP THEIR SANITY” was born!
While I’m always applauding teachers and students to tackle new technology and learning through a hands-on, playful attitude, even I think that sometimes we do go a bit too far. So in response to Sean Junkin’s image, which was actually based on a blog post by Carl Hooker, I present my re-imagined task list for the “21st Century” teacher that wants to try new things, but stay sane in the process.
Some of my suggestions are “tongue in cheek,” but many I feel quite strongly about when it comes to creating something in the real world versus a digital creation. When I taught 6th grade science, my students and I had MUCH more fun building a grow station for a plant investigation, instead of just using a virtual interactive. We created experiences, developed relationships, and worked through a lot of “21st Century” skills while building something with our hands that then sat at a place of honor in our classroom for the rest of the year. Think of the list of things I’ve put together here as a means of blending much needed real-world experiences with some digital ones.
Special thanks again to Brad Currie, Sean Junkins, and Carl Hooker for providing the impetus to create this. I hope it’s received as the playful riff that I intended it to be.